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This is a guest post from Jennifer Davis, NCTL's Co-Founder and President.

Chicago’s children deserve better.  The majority of the city’s public school students today are not being prepared for success in this increasingly competitive global economy. Without dramatic change, it is unlikely that Chicago students living in poverty today will even have the chance to live a middle class life. That is unacceptable.  
 
Like other major U.S. cities, Chicago is working to ensure equal educational opportunities for all of its students, many of whom start school well behind their suburban counterparts. While progress has been made recently, there is a long way to go. The city’s schoolchildren score lower on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (in fourth-grade reading and math and eighth-grade math) than do children in other large cities, and only 57.5 percent of Chicago students graduate from high school. Without a high school diploma, students are doomed to low wages and few options.  

We at NCTL want to congratulate the Edwards on this prestigious award, but, truth be told, we are not that surprised.  A couple of years ago, we profiled the school’s remarkable journey from near closure in 2005 to the highest performing middle school in the city. And, since seeing is believing, check out this cool video that NCTL put together of how the Edwards individualizes instruction—and, thus, maximizes the use of their expanded time.

Now, the challenge that lies before the Edwards (and all of us, really) is to take this school’s great success and spread it to other urban schools. Just today, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the Boston Public Schools is among the list of 23 finalists for the second round of Innovation Grants (commonly known as i3 Grants). So, now, Boston has the remarkable opportunity to prove that the Edwards is no fluke—that it is possible to transplant the strategies employed at the Edwards to other schools.
 

Blogger Susan Headden, from the Quick & the Ed, posted the following on November 6, 2011.

More time on task — growing evidence, along with simple common sense, shows that the more hours students engage in learning, the more they can boost their academic achievement. That, along with increasing concerns about the learning reversals students suffer over the summer, is why more and more school districts are starting to think beyond the confines of the six-hour-a-day, 180-day-a-year box


The following article, written by NCTL's Co-Founder and Chariman, Chris Gabrieli, appeared in Huffington Post November 1, 2011.
 

Wow!  What a tremendous two days of learning and sharing at our national convening on Expanded Learning Time, which we co-hosted with the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Of course, there is no way to capture everything that conference-goers heard and witnessed. There were so many captivating speakers, so many engaging panels, some “world premiere” videos of a few expanded-time schools, and even the opportunity to visit 19 expanded-time schools in Boston, Lynn, Fall River and Cambridge. If you were not able to join us for this monumental event (or even if you were), I thought that you might like get a small taste of the excitement by reading just a smattering of remarks from speakers and panelists.

It is really hard to sum up in a single post all that we heard in this morning’s session. Issues were wide-ranging, including how teachers can take advantage of opportunities for collaboration and professional development, how schools with more time can integrate arts and broader learning, and how more time must be thought of as a resource, not a strategy. So many strong speakers, so many passionate believers in the power of more time.

This is a guest post by Chris Gabrieli, NCTL's Chairman & Co-Founder.  

As we’ve forged ahead in the effort to expand learning time in those of our nation's schools serving the most disadvantaged students, NCTL has helped build and work with a growing coalition of many other educators, policymakers and thought leaders who share our vision. Like us, they know that more time holds great power, for it can open up new opportunities for learning, for enrichment and for teacher collaboration that will go a long way towards improving schools and increasing student success. 

This is a guest post by David Goldberg, NCTL's Director of Federal Policy & National Partnerships.  

Last week, Senator Harkin Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced a comprehensive bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The bill is the first significant attempt in four years to update the nation’s main public education law, and with changes made today to its teacher and principal evaluation provisions it picked up substantial bipartisan support on the committee. We are especially encouraged by the HELP committee bill’s emphasis on expanded learning time

We were honored to receive the endorsement of our latest publication, Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful, Expanded-Time Schools, from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Secretary Duncan explained why more time is so critical:

If we’re serious about closing achievement gaps, if we’re serious about turning around underperforming schools, we can’t just keep doing business as usual. The fact that our school calendar is still based upon the agrarian economy is stunning to me. And the fact that we have been so slow to move is just absolutely unacceptable. 

An editorial appeared in the Boston Globe that makes a compelling argument that schools should ensure a steady diet of physical education classes to help combat the skyrocketing incidence of childhood obesity. Anticipating concerns that more time in gym class means less time in academics, the Globe writes:

Some parents worry that forcing kids to take gym would take too much class time away from academic subjects. But that’s an argument for extending the school day, not chipping away at important enrichment programs like physical education - or, for that matter, music and art... 

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